One of Audi’s largest motorsport programs will come to an end later this year, with the German brand confirming its exit from DTM after the upcoming 2020 season.
Audi revealed the decision on Monday afternoon after communicating with DTM umbrella organization ITR.
It comes as the latest blow to the top-level German touring car series, which is only left with BMW as a manufacturer partner following Mercedes-AMG’s exit after 2018 and the end of R-Motorsport’s Aston Martin program last year.
Audi’s exit realigns its motorsport focus to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and its ongoing customer racing programs, which currently include GT3, GT4, GT2 and TCR cars.
“Audi has shaped the DTM and the DTM has shaped Audi. This demonstrates what power lies in motorsport – technologically and emotionally,” said Markus Duesmann, chairman of the board of management of Audi AG.
“With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward.
“That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung.’
“Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this. To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future.”
Since joining DTM in 1990, Audi has scored 23 championship titles and 114 race wins among its successes, which included a sweep of the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ accolades last year.
“We’re hoping that this currently difficult situation will improve soon and that we’ll still be able to contest a few DTM races this year,” added Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, member of the board for development.
“The fans would deserve this, and so would the ITR, our drivers as well as our teams and partners, who will now have adequate advance notice to reposition themselves for the time after 2020.
“Successful motorsport is – and will continue to be – an important element of Audi’s DNA.”
Berger: DTM Faces Now Faces “A Number of Specific Challenges”
Responding to Audi’s withdrawal, ITR Chairman Gerhard Berger admitted that the Class 1 series now faces a number of challenges with just one manufacturer remaining.
“Today is a difficult day for motorsport in Germany and across Europe,” he said. “I deeply regret Audi’s decision to withdraw from the DTM after the 2020 season.
“While we respect the board’s position, the short-term nature of this announcement presents ITR, our partner BMW and our teams with a number of specific challenges.
“Given our common association, and the particular difficulties we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have hoped for a more united approach.
“This decision worsens the situation, and the future of the DTM now very much depends on how our partners and sponsors react to this decision.
“Nevertheless, I fully expect Audi to undertake its planned exit properly, responsibly and in full partnership with ITR.
“My commitment remains to the year ahead, and to ensuring we provide our hundreds of thousands of fans with a thrilling and competitive season.
“But, as soon as possible, I also want to create planning security for our participating teams, sponsors and everybody whose job depends on the DTM.”